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Show: Belle & Sebastian The Scottish indie-pop darlings have returned from a four-year hiatus with a new album, Write About Love. "Leader Stuart Murdoch continues to draw his primary inspiration from the 60s—the plush harmonies of the Mamas & the Papas seem like a key influence on the title track, where he duets with actress Carey Mulligan, and 'I Want the World to Stop'—and the group's execution has never been more polished or forceful," writes Peter Margasak. Smith Westerns open.
201 N. State St., 312-239-9500, cibomatto.therestaurantsatthewit.com
Show: Tim Sparks "Minneapolis-based Tim Sparks is a journeyman of acoustic fingerstyle guitar, a restless searcher whose curiosity has continually widened his musical scope," writes Peter Margasak. "Over the decades he's adapted traditional jazz, postbop, classical, Brazilian music, and eastern European folk, parlaying the latter interest into a string of strong original recordings for Tzadik's cheekily named Radical Jewish Culture series."
Dinner: Browntrout Environmentally friendly contemporary American restaurant from Sean Sanders (Bin 36, the Hotel Sax). "his signature golden trout is done "New Zealand style," a crispy crushed-walnut armor protecting the luscious fillet, pan-seared in brown butter and served with fresh peas and mint. It's an incredibly satisfying piece of fish, and emblematic of nearly everything I've sampled on Sanders's simple and easily navigable menu," writes Mike Sula.
4111 N. Lincoln Ave., 773-472-4111, browntroutchicago.com
Show: Psycho A dark night at the Bates Motel, in the horror movie that transformed the genre by locating the monster inside ourselves. Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece blends a brutal manipulation of audience identification and an incredibly dense, allusive visual style to create the most morally unsettling film ever made.
Dinner: Sushi Mura Proximity to the Music Box helps keep this traditional Japanese restaurant full, and the clean, attractive room doesn’t hurt either. Sitting at the sushi bar is a fun way to study the art of maki rolling—the skillful chefs make a broad variety, from salmon skin with cucumber to more elaborate dragon and rainbow rolls.
3647 N. Southport Ave., 773-281-9155, sushimura.com
Show: It's Kind of a Funny Story Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the writing and directing team who made Half Nelson (2006) and Sugar (2008), create a fine ensemble cast for this third feature by pulling together skilled character actors (Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Adrian Martinez) and professional comedians playing straight (Zach Galifianakis, Jim Gaffigan, Aasif Mandvi).
4:30 pm, 6:15 pm, 7:20 pm, 8:45 pm, 9:55 pm, Landmark's Century Centre, 2828 N. Clark St., 773-509-4949
Dinner: Sapori Trattoria Chef-owner Anthony Barnabiente, whose father, Ottavio, owns Fornello Trattoria and whose sister Antonella owns La Donna, carries on the family tradition of serving better-than-average Italian food in a casual and inviting room.
2701 N. Halsted St., 773-832-9999, saporitrattoria.net
Show: The Dialogues Series The premise reads like a rejected game show pitch: the audience don headphones and listen in on an improvised phone conversation between two performers separated from each other by an onstage screen. But under Dexter Bullard's direction, a show that could've slipped into kitsch or avant-garde frippery instead stuns with its simple humanity.
Dinner: Matsuya The freshest sushi and sashimi and sizable portions of tempura and teriyaki set this spot apart from its neighbors on this busy stretch of Clark Street.
3469 N. Clark St., 773-248-2677
Lit & Lectures
Show: John McNally His success came by way of a lot of hard work and perseverance and plenty of failure, as he dutifully notes in The Creative Writer's Survival Guide: Advice From an Unrepentant Novelist (University of Iowa Press). The book isn't about how to write: it's school-of-hard-knocks advice on what to do once you've determined to be a writer, with tips (and red flags) on going to school, getting published, getting publicized, and finding employment.
Dinner: Cafecito Prior to opening his South Loop Cuban-style cafe, Philip Ghantous was a frustrated actor-waiter with zero kitchen experience. So how the hell is it that this Lebanese-American from Peoria is now pressing the best damn Cuban sandwiches in the city?
26 E. Congress Pkwy., 312-922-2233, cafecitochicago.com